August 18th 2017

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Amina Mohamed thrashed by Chadian in bid for AU top job

This was an anticlimax for a campaign in which Kenya spent substantial resources in a shuttle diplomacy that local activists had repudiated, seeing in Kenya's effort a determination to continue the fierce war against the ICC that the foreign has led through most of the Uhuru Kenyatta presidency.

By Free Press Correspondentnewsdesk@kenyafreepress.comMonday, 30 Jan 2017 17:17 EAT

Mr Mahamat, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Chad at EU G5 conference last year.

Kenya's foreign minister Amina Mohamed has been thrashed in her bid for the chairmanship of the African Union Commission by her Chad counterpart Moussa Faki Mahamat who won the seat handily with 39 votes. Ms Mohamed had put up a brave fight for the seat but fell short in the last round of voting when she couldn’t secure even a single ballot in her favour, leaving her opponent from Chad to romp into a well-deserved victory.

The tight race went into the seventh round where Ms Mohamed lost, having nearly tied with Mr Mahamat in the previous two rounds. The spokesperson of the president has confirmed Ms Mohamed's loss even as journalists at the AU headquarters wait for an official update on the results currently being prepared by the secretariat. The election can only be won by two thirds of members endorsing a candidate (36 votes), and last year’s polls in July in Kigali, in which Ms Mohamed didn’t contest, were deadlocked after none of the candidates managed that threshold.

This was an anticlimax for a campaign in which Kenya spent substantial resources in a shuttle diplomacy that local activists had repudiated, seeing in Kenya's effort a determination to continue the fierce war against the International Criminal Court that the foreign has led through most of the Uhuru Kenyatta presidency. In the final weeks of the campaign, Ms Mohamed faced damning allegations about her personal integrity, with a dossier, seemingly authored by Kenyan foreign ministry staff or the national service of another country, circulating in media houses.

The dossier was in December submitted in a petition to the National Assembly urging MPs to investigate the minister's conduct. Today's vote unfolded in an environment in which Chad was widely deemed to be the underdogs in much of the media in Kenya and internationally. Early today, the West Africa regional bloc ECOWAS endorsed the candidature of Prof. Abdoulaye Bathily, a Senegalese diplomat and academic who was widely touted to be Ms Mohamed’s main opponent, which ended up being knocked out in early rounds of voting.

However, three ECOWAS countries had dissented: Ghana, which was pressing for the deputy chairmanship, had endorsed Ms Mohamed. Niger had endorsed Mr Mahamat while Nigeria had assured Kenya's delegation that it would back Ms Mohamed in the second round, after initially supporting the ECOWAS candidate.

In the end the Central Africa bloc was sufficient to see the Chadian through in a race where other candidates: Botswana's Foreign Minister Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi and Mba Mokuy, a former political adviser from the ex-Spanish colony of Equatorial Guinea, didn't impress.

The results were humiliating for Kenya whose top leadership had gone flat out to win the seat. President Kenyatta attended the concluding summit despite the country being in mourning following Friday's attack by Al Shabaab militants on a Kenyan military camp in Kulbiyow, Somalia, in which scores of soldiers were killed.

One of Africa's and the world's poorest and worst-governed countries, Chad has no diplomatic clout beyond the Central Africa region, and has been seen as a safe bet for continental leadership positions. The country's president is the outgoing chairman of the African Union, having been elected last year.

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